Despite widespread appreciation of the importance of diverse participation in engineering, persistent biases and systemic disadvantages continue to impede the flourishing of students with historically excluded identities. We investigate the influence of a STEM-themed Women’s and Gender Studies course on the identity formation and sense of belonging of a group of engineering students. Through survey responses and focus group discussions, this study qualitatively investigates how STEM-themed coursework in WGS may influence the attitudes, perspectives, and identity formation of marginalized engineering students. In our interviews, students reported finding WGS coursework to be empowering, liberatory, and strengthening of their STEM confidence and preparedness. Providing students with the critical frameworks, interdisciplinary methods, and conceptual vocabulary associated with WGS can positively influence students' engineering identity formation and support underrepresented students’ sense of belonging in engineering. Understanding personal challenges as systemic rather than individual, and recognizing the social construction of engineering knowledge, were so valuable that respondents recommended WGS coursework be required for all engineering students. Our results suggest that the disciplines of gender studies and critical race theory may be powerful avenues to advance the agency and thriving of diverse engineering students.
‘A New Way of Seeing’: Engagement With Women’s and Gender Studies Fosters Engineering Identity Formation
Rossmann, J. S. and M. A. Armstrong (2021) "‘A New Way of Seeing’: Engagement With Women’s and Gender Studies Fosters Engineering Identity Formation." ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Proceedings. Paper 32377.